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Vow of silence against trans-, bi- and homophobic bullying

Tuesday, September 6, 2016


Sometimes taking a vow of silence can speak louder than words.

That’s the goal of this Friday’s Day of Silence, as students around New Zealand take a vow of silence to call attention to the silencing effect of homophobic, biphobic and transphobic bullying, name-calling and harassment in schools.

We know from a recent study that rangatahi who identify as transgender, or who are attracted to the same or both-sex are much more likely to experience discrimination, bullying and violence.

  • 43% of same or both-sex attracted young people, and 50% of transgender young people have been hit or hurt by others
  • Transgender young people are 4.5 times more likely than others to be bullied or hurt weekly at school
  • Almost 60% of same or both-sex attracted young people are afraid someone will hurt or bully them at school.

This also means that this group of young people are more likely to self-harm, attempt suicide and experience depression.

That’s where the Day of Silence comes in. It aims to make schools safer for all students - regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity/expression - by bringing attention to the problem, letting students know they are not alone and asking schools to take action.

Because we know schools can be safe and supportive places. The same study also showed us that:

  • 74% of transgender, and 81% of same or both-sex attracted young people say school is okay or better
  • 47% of transgender, and 65% of same or both-sex attracted young people say their friends care about them a lot.

How can I get involved?

There are different ways you can be involved and show your support for the Day of Silence:

  1. Take a vow of silence on Friday 9 September with other students around the country
  2. Take part in the Selfies for Silence campaign
  3. Be an ally and promote diversity

Selfies for Silence

Family Planning health promoters are showing their support by taking part in the Selfies for Silence campaign.

They’re taking selfies and sharing what they’re doing to break the silence about homophobic, biphobic and transphobic bullying. Check out our Facebook page on Friday to see some of our health promoters’ friendly faces, and then do your own.

How to be an ally:

  1. Listen to people.  Find out about the lives of people with diverse sexualities and genders and what their communities want and need.
  2. Work with people and groups. Support the work of diversity groups and people working to stop discrimination.
  3. Educate yourself. Read, listen, talk – don’t expect Queer and trans people to educate you.
  4. Use inclusive language. Use partner instead of boyfriend/girlfriend.
  5. Be aware of making assumptions around gender.
  6. Stand up to people who are discriminating against others. If you hear someone say “that’s so gay” you could respond with:

    • How can a book have a sexual orientation?
    • Really? I didn’t know that movie was attracted to other movies of the same genre.
    • What did you mean by that?
    • I find that offensive can you use something else
  7. Talk to people. Conversations are awesome and can start change! If you’re at school, ask about policies and school rules, and talk to people that look after diversity.
  8. It is ok to feel uncomfortable and make mistakes when being an ally. Apologise, learn from them and keep being an awesome ally!

More information:

Family Planning has clinics located throughout New Zealand. Use the clinic finder to find your nearest clinic.

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